Tree Pruning Techniques For Different Types of Trees

Tree Pruning Techniques For Different Types of Trees

Tree pruning is essential for keeping your landscape looking its best. However, different types of trees require different trimming techniques.

The first thing to consider is the angle of the cut. It should always be made at a downward angle so that water does not settle into the wound and cause rot.

Branches that grow at a downward angle

The downward-facing branches of a tree can chafe against other limbs, damage the ground or structures underneath them and attract pests and diseases. These limbs are a hazard to humans and property and need to be pruned away.

To remove these limbs, make a heading cut at the end of the branch, just above an outward-facing bud. The head cut reduces the size of the branch and promotes new growth, which is better for fruit production. Make the cut at an angle that slants down and away from the bud to discourage water from collecting on the wound and promoting disease.

Thinning cuts, on the other hand, reduce a tree’s overall volume and encourage lateral branch growth. These cuts also help reduce water uptake in the canopy and allow for air circulation to prevent disease. To make thinning cuts, prune higher branches back to laterals that are one-third the diameter of the branch you are removing.


Branches that form beneath a tree’s root or lower stem are known as suckers, and they should be pruned promptly. Unlike desirable branches that grow higher up, these weak, weedy-looking shoots are energy thieves and should be removed as soon as they appear. Tree suckers often form underneath a graft union, and they can cause the grafted variety to revert back to its own rootstock, which is undesirable for most landscape trees.

Suckers can also grow from the trunk or larger branches, and these are called waterspouts. Heavy pruning or damage to a plant may stimulate the growth of water sprouts. They usually grow vigorously from dormant buds, so regular pruning is important to maintain a healthy tree or shrub. If you notice a water sprout forming, just cleanly nip it off as close to the trunk or roots as possible without cutting into the bark. This will prevent disease and insect infestations from gaining a foothold.

Dead or damaged limbs

Trimming dead or damaged limbs from trees helps ensure the safety of people and property, decreases the risk of a tree falling on structures, and encourages the health of the remaining branches. It also works as an investment for the long-term health of a property’s trees.

Pruning can be done on a routine basis or for a specific purpose, such as eliminating a visual obstruction or preventing damage from storms. It can also be used to improve a tree’s shape and structure, encourage blooming or fruit production, help prevent disease by allowing airflow, and prevent structural failure or breakage.

When pruning any limb, it’s important to cut away the entire branch stub, including the root stub. This avoids compromising the protective bark called callus, which helps the tree defend against decay organisms. Additionally, be sure to cut the outside of the branch collar, a swollen area at the base of the branch. Cutting into this region exposes the wood to fungi and insects.

Broken branches

Damaged branches should be pruned out as soon as possible. This minimizes the risk of decay agents entering the wound and will reduce the load on the remaining limbs.

For small broken limbs, cut at or near the point where the branch joins a larger limb. Make clean cuts with proper equipment, and try to avoid exposing more of the cambium (greenish inner bark) than necessary. This will help the tree heal and eliminate hiding places for insects.

For more serious breaks, the best approach is to cut the limb back to its collar or a major limb. Be careful to locate the branch collar before cutting – it can look like a ridge or a circle. If the damage is severe and the limbs are no longer serving their purpose, it may be time to call in a professional to determine the best course of action.